How many trade shows, corporate events, retreats, and team building gatherings will be on your event calendar this year? How confident are you that the money you invest in these experiences will translate into new business and real dollars? One of the best ways to ensure a solid ROI for your brand during every event you schedule or attend is to create a solid marketing events calendar that incorporates a strong custom branded merchandise strategy. Here is what we will cover in this article:
- How to generate new business using a marketing event calendar.
- How to keep marketing in the front seat at all times with a custom branded apparel strategy.
- How to ensure every promotional item purchase is properly used as a marketing tool and not relegated to your backroom storage space.
- How to confidently invest in custom branded merchandise knowing that it will translate into new business.
What is an Event Marketing Calendar?
What is an event marketing calendar? It is precisely what its name implies. It is a calendar used for scheduling your important (think high visibility) marketing events in advance. This allows you and your team to tailor your brand identity for each specific event which generates a return on every marketing dollar you spend.
At Blue Fox Branding, our event marketing calendar is a large component of our branded merchandise strategy. If you’ve spent any time marketing your business you have most likely heard of a content calendar. Often you hear it associated with social media, articles, editorial posts, or video creation. An event marketing calendar is like a content calendar, but it is specifically tailored for your branded merchandise strategy and it’s important because without it, you may miss important events to market and promote your business. Here are a few additional reasons why an event marketing calendar is important:
- Encourages you to put your plans and events to paper which helps keep you organized.
- Allows your entire team to understand why you are choosing to market at the events you’ve selected.
- Helps you order the promotional items and supplies you need in advance – think deadlines.
- Provides you with time to select the perfect branded products and choose from a wider selection of vendors and styles.
- Prevents you from mismanaging your overall marketing event budget and allows you to get more value out of each investment you make.
Another HUGE VALUE an event marketing calendar brings is that it helps you match the perfect custom branded item with the needs, wants, and desires of your target market (prospective customers, current clients, employees, etc.).
Create a Path to High Return on Custom Branded Merchandise Purchases
Hope marketing is when you make a purchase or decision and hope that it works out – “I hope this works.” That’s not what you want for your marketing event calendar and it’s not what you want from your custom branded merchandise strategy.
You want confidence that the money you invest in each promotional item will translate into a ROI for your business. That confidence comes with having a strategic plan! The first step in creating a strategic plan for your marketing events and your custom branded merchandise is to identify the end result you want to achieve. If you want to transform a prospect into a client, that will warrant one type of approach. Making a new employee feel welcomed and excited about your business and mission, will warrant a different approach. Decide what emotion or impact you want to illicit before making any other decisions. The second step is to identify your target audience. This may be easier with some initiatives and more difficult with others. Who do you want to leave a lasting impression with? What problem are you trying to solve? Create a vivid picture of the target audience and try to put yourself in their shoes to understand what drives and moves them to action. The third step is to ask yourself what type of promotional or branded item does your target audience value? For example, an older employee may value a really nice leather padfolio while a younger employee might appreciate company branded socks – yes, company branded socks! Identifying your purpose or desired end result, painting a clear picture of your target audience, and investing in something of value will ensure that your custom branded merchandise strategy is a hit. You will replace the anxiety that comes with hope marketing and in its place have a level of confidence and certainty that allows you to move forward with boldness.
Use Branded Merchandise to Get the Reaction You Want
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Most ideas today aren’t original; it’s probably been done before. It is about the presentation, quality, creativity, and customer experience that ultimately moves people one direction or another. Think outside the box. Be Bold. Invest the time in planning and preparing and you will be satisfied with your end result.
Creating a Memorable Executive Retreat
Executive retreats create a unique opportunity unlike any others. While some retreats may be full suit and tie, often, they are opportunities for executives to do meaningful self-work or company-focused work in a more casual environment. Welcoming executives with custom branded items they can use or will need throughout the retreat is a great way to set the tone for the time together. Throughout the event, having additional items to present during meetings that relates to a specific agenda item can take an abstract idea and transform it into something more tangible. When the retreat is finished, sending executives off with a parting gift that has real life application can remind them of the event and the lessons learned. In this example, branded merchandise acts as a monument for the individual moments. Presenting each one at a specific moment with a specific purpose will leave an impression on attendees, not only in the moment, but after departing for home.
Creating a Memorable Team Building Training
Team building is all about building relationships and encouraging coworkers to share a common experience. Ultimately, you want your team to be your brand ambassadors and be vested in the success and mission of your company.
There are many ways to get your team motivated through the use of branded merchandise. Whether you choose to create a special team shirt that is comfortable and trendy or invest in a different item such as drinkware or bags, the goal is to unite the team towards a common goal and theme. Branded merchandise helps create a positive internal culture within your team environment. Here are a few signs that team building is creating a healthy workplace culture:
- Employees show their excitement for what your company represents
- A strong camaraderie between team members with positive morale
- Motivated staff performing at high levels
- A sense of belonging to a larger vision, mission, and purpose
Creating a Memorable Trade Show or Event
There are two things you need to address right away: booth design and custom branded merchandise. Each of these require a fair amount of communication and decision making plus lead time for ordering. For your booth, you’ll want to consider the typical space available to you, design elements that will highlight what you do well, and help your space feel inviting and approachable. Having a great booth is just half the equation. You may have thousands of visitors over the course of a weekend event – but what do you have to show for it? That’s where your promotional products will be important. Sure, collect email addresses, register new clients, and setup calls for the following week… but before the visitor leaves your space, give them something they can’t live without. Something that will keep your company front and center for days, weeks, months, and years – after the event. In order to stand out, your approach to promotional products needs to be specifically tailored to your target audience.
Examples of How Branded Merchandise Can Be Used for Marketing Calendar Events
The below examples provide insight into how choosing the right branded merchandise and promotional items for your target audience is key to getting the reaction you want.
Creating a Memorable Welcome Package
A large tech company we work with has a program specifically for their interns. Every year, this company provides a welcome package for each intern. This year we brainstormed ideas about what engineering college students would find useful and would want to keep. Here are the items we came up with:
- Backpack (used to package all the below items)
- Vacuum sealed stainless-steel water bottle
- Lanyard (could be used on a daily basis)
- Mechanical pencil and pen set
- Custom die cut stickers
- 32 GB flash drive
All of these items are something a college intern would find useful and appreciate. Making a statement like this may be worth the extra cost to get the right employees working for you.
Creating a Memorable Corporate Experience
Our second example is focused on the internal audience of a large corporation. This company was putting on an event at all of their US and Canada locations. It was an internal event which had a comic book theme. The merchandise we came up with for this event was specifically based on the theme and budget. Here is what we came up with:
- Custom metal lunch boxes (used to package all the below items)
- Marvel Comics Pez dispensers
As you can see from the above examples, the products we chose stand out and are useful. They are also unique, high-quality, clever, and fun items that have great design and can also be used as packaging. Remember, the products you choose should directly relate to your target audience.
Creating Your Successful Branded Merchandise Marketing Strategy
Having a marketing event calendar allows the time necessary to brainstorm and come up with custom branded merchandise that will be a hit. While your past buying decisions can and should drive your future buying decisions, it is important to bring other opinions into the fold so you are not just reacting to the past, but strategizing for the future.
Your marketing event calendar is a reflection of your business identity as it shows what is important to you and your business. A successful marketing event calendar and branded merchandise strategy is likeable and memorable – exactly what you want your company to be! Here is a list of some events and causes to help jumpstart your future marketing events calendar along with a sample calendar from Blue Fox Branding:
- Trade Shows
- Executive Retreats
- Incentive Programs
- Golf Events
- Holiday Parties
- Team Building Events
- New Products Launch Events